In yet another significant step forward for the future of the sport in Pennsylvania, each of the 2021 high school girls wrestling state champions were honored at the state capitol on Wednesday.
Of the 10 girls that were honored, two were from Gettysburg High School. Recent graduates Montana DeLawder, who will continue her wrestling career at King University in Tennessee, won a championship at 128 pounds to become a four-time titleist, while teammate Rachel Keller took home gold at 184 pounds.
The honor comes at a time where there’s been a significant push to get the sport sanctioned by the PIAA. Members of both the state house and senate were in attendance at the event as was former world and Olympic champion Bruce Baumgartner, who spoke at the event.
DeLawder also had a chance to speak at the event, continuing the work she’s done in the past to champion the sport and the fight to have wrestling sanctioned by the PIAA.
“I just talked about how in the wrestling room everyone is equal,” she said of her comments. “You could have a boy who’s the best in the state and a girl who’s new to the team but when they get in the room they’re treated the same. I wanted to talk about that and how close-knit the wrestling community is. It’s like a family.”
State senator Scott Martin and representative Ann Flood were responsible for organizing the event. Martin has been a integral part of the Sanction PA movement and speaking with PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi about why the sport should be sanctioned in Pennsylvania.
While Pennsylvania is a hotbed for boys’ wrestling, it remains one of just 18 states who have, to this point, resisted sanctioning the sport on the girls’ side. Girls wrestling has grown at a relentless rate over recent years, with only six states having sanctioned state championships prior to 2018, while the current number now sits at 32.
DeLawder says that she believes momentum is headed in the right direction.
“The more people are becoming aware the more they’re hoping on the bandwagon,” she said. “Exposure is what’s helping the most right now and I feel like a lot more people are becoming aware and wanting to help.”
NEWS AND NOTES
Virginia Military Institute’s wrestling team will be home to a whole host of Adams’ County talent in the 2021-22 season.
The Keydets, who already feature Biglerville product Blake Showers, will add a couple of Gettysburg wrestlers to the lineup later this season. Both Max Gourley and Nathan Ridgley have announced that they’ll continue their careers on the mat in Lexington.
Similarly, Bermudian Springs’ Hogan Swenski has already headed to Columbus to join the Ohio State Buckeyes, while former Berm teammate Trenton Harder is now at Bloomsburg University after initially pledging to Army West Point. He joins former teammate Chase Dull on the Huskies’ roster.
Biglerville state champion and cadet world team member Levi Haines just finished up the first of his world team training camps in Beresford, South Dakota. Haines, a recent Penn State commit, will wrestle in Budapest on June 20 at the Cadet World Championships.
On the college level, the Nittany Lions added a big name in Haines, but so did Pitt recently as the Panthers got a pair of commitments from 220-pound state champion Dayton Pitzer of Mount Pleasant and 2020 state runner-up Mac Stout of Canon-McMillan, whose junior season ended early after an injury in January.
Clarion also picked up a big name in Virginia Tech transfer Brent Moore, who reached the national tournament in 2018 before dealing with injuries the last two seasons.
On the other hand, Lock Haven has lost a pair of 2020 signees who never took the mat for the Eagles. Manheim Central product and former state champion Will Betancourt will continue his career at Ohio State, while former state placer Tanner Updegraff of Hershey will also leave Lock Haven but has yet to announce a destination.
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org